S. ABINGTON TWP. — It may have been Senior Day, but three freshmen played a big role in Abington Heights’ 7-6 walk-off win over West Scranton in a Lackawanna League Division 1 softball game Monday afternoon.
Freshman Ava Leach had two hits, including a bloop single to shallow right field in the bottom of the seventh inning that clinched the victory and set off a celebration in the infield.
Senior pitcher Meghan McGinley, who earned the win in the circle, was among the first teammates to embrace Leach during the post-game mob.
“It means a lot to me because the seniors work really hard all year to make sure the freshmen really feel included and that we really get to participate on the team,” Leach said. “I felt really lucky to be able to get that hit for them.”
Despite facing a three-run deficit entering their final at-bat, the Lady Comets stayed positive. It didn’t hurt that the heart of the lineup was due up in the inning.
Sophomore first baseman Catherine Anne Kupinski and junior catcher Nina Kozar started the rally with hard singles through the left side of the infield. Freshman center fielder Bailey White followed with a line drive to the gap in right-center field that scored Kupinski and sophomore courtesy runner Shaelyn Kobrynich and cut the Lady Comets’ deficit to one run.
McGinley’s RBI single tied the game. Then, sophomore right fielder Caroline Kelly walked and freshman designated player Rachel McDonald singled to set the stage for Leach’s heroics.
“We have a lot of faith and confidence in our team,” Leach said. “We know that we all have each other’s backs and that we can all come up clutch in the end.”
Abington Heights (11-1) took an early lead on White’s two-run single in the bottom of the first inning.
“Bailey is such a hard worker, a great defensive player and a very good hitter,” Abington Heights head coach John Kelly said.
West Scranton first baseman Maura Turi and designated player Maeve Cast delivered RBI singles in the top of the second inning to tie the game.
Abington Heights regained the lead in the bottom of the third on a RBI groundout by McGinley.
Lady Invaders pitcher Tatum Repshis’ line drive double to left-center field pulled West Scranton (6-6) even again in the top of the fifth inning.
Turi drove in her second run of the game with a single, and catcher Emily Rose smoked a double down the left-field line that brought in two runs as West Scranton took a 6-3 lead in the top of the seventh. Lady Comets second baseman Maria Tully made a pair of putouts at second base to limit to damage.
“They are a good hitting team and sometimes your defense has to make plays for you,” Kelly said. “We did for the most part today.”
Kelly was proud of the effort from the entire squad and feels the comeback win may serve as a confidence booster.
“We had three freshmen that really played well today, but this was a team win,” he said. “And, this is the the type of win you need going into the playoffs.”
McGinley agreed that the victory served as a good gut check as the team prepares to begin the district playoffs May 22.
“We really dug down deep,” she said. “Those three freshmen wanted it bad and they really helped us a lot today. We’re going to be in a lot of tight games, so this is helpful.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.